A special tribute happening during Saturday’s yearly Ace Miller Memorial Boxing Weekend in Knoxville.
Last year, Tanner Wray competed in those matches. He collapsed in between rounds and ended up dying.
Six On Your Side’s Elizabeth Kuebel was ringside with Tanner’s mother and friends. Tanner’s presence loomed very large at this year’s event.
From the moment Saturday’s boxing match kicked off, one thing was made very clear – Tanner Wray is on the minds and hearts of many in the crowd and in the ring.
“It hasn’t been a thing of mourning or sadness, it’s been for remembrance, motivation and we’re carrying his memory with us and his legacy,” said Lucas Grinnell, Wray’s friend.
The UT student collapsed during last year’s charity boxing match and passed away.
“It was a traumatic experience for me last year and I wasn’t here, thank goodness, but I’m so glad they’re still doing it. I was nervous, but I’m fine. I want to see these boys do this for Tanner,” said Wray’s mom Amy Schisler.
His mom starting off the night, before the sound of the first bell, with a message for everyone in the crowd.
“That they’ve worked hard and trained hard and they don’t need anything but their confidence and their belief in themselves to know that they can do this,” Schisler said.
Tanner’s fraternity brothers and friends are fighting in his memory. And for the first time this year, young women are also allowed to compete.
“It’s great that they’re continuing to do this instead of stopping it, because he definitely would love the fact that they are still continuing this process,” said Jessi Helson.
It’s a thought echoed by Tanner’s mom, and one that gives her the strength to return, because this event last year was the worst weekend of her life.
“Tanner would want me to. Tanner did not finish. He would be beside himself knowing he did not finish and these boys are finishing for him, and I’m here to support that,” his mom said.
Tanner’s mom has also started a foundation to carry on her son’s legacy. To learn more, just search for the “Tanner Wray Foundation” on Facebook.